Oxford is on the verge of becoming one of the first UK cities to gain a zero-emission zone (ZEZ) following the completion of a final round of public consultations.
Almost 900 Oxford residents approved the ZEZ, which means that if Oxford County Council and Oxford City Council give their approval later this month, the zone can begin to be implemented. If approved, it’s due to be created in August 2021.
The zone, which was first proposed in 2015, will be modelled on central London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ). It will follow the unveiling of similar schemes in Bath (15 March) and Birmingham (1 June) as cities across the UK seek to reduce CO2 emissions in line with the government’s demands to improve air quality.
Zero-emissions vehicles will be able to use the zone free of charge, but other vehicles will be charged between £2 and £10 per day to enter the area. From August 2025, this is proposed to be lifted to between £4 to £20.
Ultra-low-emissions vehicles (those that emit less than 75g/km of CO2) will incur a £2 charge, rising to £4. Drivers of Euro 4 petrol and Euro 6 diesel vehicles will be charged £4 (rising to £8). For more polluting vehicles, the charge is £10 (rising to £20).
Discounts from charges will be available to those already living within the zone, business vehicles, blue badge holders and vehicles with a disabled tax class.
Although the size of the zone is yet to be confirmed, it’s expected to encompass a handful of streets in Oxford’s city centre at first, including St Michael’s Street and New Inn Hall Street, before being expanding to the rest of the city.
The zone will be active between 7am and 7pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Councillor Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “Tackling air pollution and climate change is a huge priority for Oxfordshire County Council.
“Not only will the zero-emission zone make a difference to the quality of life and health of people living and working in the city centre, [but also] we are showing that change is possible as we start to respond seriously with climate action. We can look forward to a city that will be a healthier and cleaner place for all.”